Matthew Harper named new H.B. mayor

With a nomination from a former mayor and a second by a rookie council member, the votes were cast and a new Huntington Beach mayor was named.

The City Council voted unanimously Monday, with Councilman Joe Carchio absent, to name Matthew Harper the 59th mayor of Surf City. Outgoing Mayor Connie Boardman will serve the rest of her term as a councilwoman.

"Growing up here was a very special experience, and I am truly humbled and honored by my colleagues for allowing me to serve as mayor for the city of Huntington Beach," Harper said. "It's very special for me, just being a kid that graduated from Huntington Beach High School and just wanting to do some good for the community and for our city."

The City Council also unanimously voted to make Joe Shaw the new mayor pro tem for the upcoming year.

"Tonight I'm honored to be sworn in as mayor pro tem for the city of Huntington Beach," he said. "I commit that I will do my very best to serve the residents of Huntington Beach and to continue working with both the new mayor and all the former mayors on the council."

It was a night dedicated to celebrating the new head officials of the city. Talks of the proposed polystyrene ban or regulation of the sale of alcohol in the downtown area would have to wait until the next meeting.

Instead, residents complimented Boardman on her year as mayor, with some giving her flowers and a hug. Kim Kramer, president of the Huntington Beach Downtown Residents Assn., and his wife, Gloria Alvarez, went so far as to give the outgoing mayor her very own key to the downtown area.

"I so appreciate the fact that you know that being mayor means it's not about you, but it's about the community and representing us with integrity and respect," former Mayor Debbie Cook said.

Before handing the council a farewell gift, a framed picture of a family spending time at a fire pit, Boardman spent her final minutes as mayor giving a State of the City-like speech, recapping milestones and looking ahead to the challenges that still loom. She listed as accomplishments establishing the Downtown Task Force and protecting the city's fire rings.

She also thanked city staff for their hard work while being short-handed.

"It's been my honor to be able to serve the people of Huntington Beach as mayor over the last year," Boardman said. "You know I'm just moving over one chair. I'm not leaving. So if there are issues of concern or you have questions that I can answer, give me a call or send me an email."

Harper had his chance to address the dozens of people in the council chambers, thanking them for giving him the opportunity to serve as mayor. He also gave a brief speech on issues facing the city.

He ended on the topic of the long-awaited senior center near Central Park, asking his colleagues to break ground on the project as soon as possible.

"Council members, let's work together because this project is so important for our seniors," Harper said. "We need a senior center that can be able to be at the level that we can be proud of here in Huntington Beach. And right in the center of the city makes it accessible to everyone, just like Central Library.

"Let's do it; 2014 is going to be great."

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